Treasury goes for ERP

Treasury goes for ERP

By 2004, department will have single payroll and HR system

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The Treasury Department over the next three and a half years will roll out a $100 million personnel and payroll enterprise resource planning system.

Treasury will use HR Connect from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. The first organizations to get the system'later this year and early next'will be the Financial Management Service, the Secret Service and Treasury's departmental offices, said Todd Turner, director of human resource systems for Treasury.

Next year, Treasury plans to integrate HR Connect with the Mint's bureauwide PeopleSoft ERP system. The Mint began using its ERP system in 1998.

From mid-2001 through 2002, Turner said, his office will devote its efforts to the IRS' migration to the system.

'Other than upgrading bureaus already in production, we are not looking to roll out any new bureaus during that time frame because of the size of the IRS,' he said.

The program office will install the ERP system at remaining bureaus and offices during the project's final year.

The ERP implementation will be no small feat. The PeopleSoft ERP application will replace more than 100 legacy personnel and payroll systems, many of which were written decades ago in Cobol.

Although the Mint was one of the government's early ERP implementers, it has not been the only Treasury organization toying with the idea of centralized administrative systems.

As part of a pilot, the department late last year installed HR Connect in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Turner's team chose them for the shakedown of the application because the two bureaus had participated in an ERP prototype that the department began in 1998.

'Lessons learned from the pilot were that we've really put more emphasis on the central program management, on our involvementin terms of being an active partner in managing the program and our design,' Turner said.

Treasury bought the PeopleSoft ERP application with the understanding that it would use it departmentwide and set up the program office in the main Treasury building.

The program office has 12 full-time employees'a mix of information technology and HR specialists. There are also 15 additional staff members on short- or long-term loan to the office for the project. Each bureau also has assigned a project manager and deployment team for the project, and these employees also are working in the program office for the duration of the HR Connect implementation.

The interaction of program, HR and systems officials is crucial to the project's success, Turner said. Each bureau conducts business differently, and re-engineering business practices to achieve common approaches for using off-the-shelf software is a challenge, he said.

To avoid obsolescence of the ERP system before Treasury finishes pushing it out to all its organizations, the program office meets regularly with the Treasury Human Resources Advisory Council, which focuses on what it anticipates will be the future needs of users, he said.

Once the department's senior management team gave the project the green light, the council in December sent the program office a list of priorities.

In January, the office began organizing the bureau deployment teams. The program office and the deployment teams spent most of February and March producing the final design, Turner said.

To refine the details, the program office and advisory council held a three-day, off-site session at the end of March. The deployment teams then spent April and May drilling the business processes into software requirements, Turner said.

BPA enters picture

Meanwhile, Treasury officials negotiated a blanket purchasing agreement with Litton PRC Inc. to integrate the software. The BPA has a one-year base period and two option years.

'There's been extensive work done by the program office,' said Jeffrey Zack, vice president and general manager of government enterprise solutions at Litton PRC. 'They have learned from previous experience because they do not want to reinvent the wheel.'

'Throwing in a piece of software is a piece of cake,' Zack said. 'But changing the culture, that is what you really want to achieve.'

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